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Hassan Nasrallah

Tag Archives | Hassan Nasrallah

Hamas and Hezbollah at Loggerheads over Syria

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An elderly woman crosses a street in the Bab el-Adid district of Aleppo. Fabio Bucciarelli/AFP

Born of a common struggle against Israel and nourished by common benefactors in Syria and Iran, Sunni Hamas and Shiite Hezbollah have long been natural allies despite their sectarian differences.

An elderly woman crosses a street in the Bab el-Adid district of Aleppo. Fabio Bucciarelli/AFP

Ever since the early 1990s, when Israel exiled Hamas’ leadership to Lebanon, the two groups have cultivated an alliance that has shaped the Middle East’s balance of power for decades. But the crisis in Syria has ruptured the old “axis of resistance,” with regional forces giving the two organizations opposing stakes in the conflict and bringing unprecedented tension to their relationship. While Hezbollah fighters have fought and died for Bashar al-Assad in some of the civil war’s fiercest battles, Hamas has thrown in its lot with the rebels and retreated deeper into the embrace of Sunni Islamist powers in the region.

For a time, it appeared that the partnership might be over, with Hamas calling on Hezbollah to extricate itself from Syria and Hezbollah accusing Hamas of funneling weapons and technology to Sunni jihadists. Yet the two groups appear to have looked beyond Syria’s civil war and calculated that more is to be lost than gained from a total divorce. Despite outbursts of inflammatory rhetoric, Hamas and Hezbollah have apparently agreed to disagree on Syria while maintaining a strategic partnership against Israel.

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A Thoughtful Response is Needed in Syria

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Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Syria at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on August 26, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Syria at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on August 26, 2013

Secretary of State Kerry has found Syria guilty in the court of public opinion without offering any evidence to support his claim that the government of Syria was responsible for the chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus several days ago. The U.S. and UK have sent warships off the coast of Syria while at the same time preparing to discuss the prospects for peace at a conference between the Syrian government and rebels in Geneva in October.

British Foreign Minister Hague says the UK would be compliant with international law if it bypassed the UN in order to proceed with an attack. Even George Bush had the good sense to have UN backing before he invaded Iraq. This ‘attack Syria’ hysteria is filled with contradictions and because of its implications, borders on madness.  Why jump to any conclusions before/until the investigation is completed by the UN High Commissioner for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane? After more than two years of an absence of direct military response on the part of the West, what is the sudden hurry?

If the Syrian government is guilty, show the evidence and get a UN mandate before commencing any military action. Of course, a UN mandate is unlikely to occur since China and Russia have vowed to continue to oppose Western-sponsored resolutions against Syria. That is why Hague said what he said. So is the West now going to bypass the rule of law and procedures it has put in place when it is ‘inconvenient’? If so, what does that say about what may happen in future conflicts? That is a very dangerous road to go down.

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Hezbollah’s Missiles: A Brilliant Madness?

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Isreal's Ehud Barak with IDF Commanders. Ariel Hermoni/ Israel Defense Forces

Isreal’s Ehud Barak with IDF Commanders. Ariel Hermoni/Israel Defense Forces

The Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, whose violent opposition to Israel’s right to exist remains firmly intact, has been stepping up its incessant preparations for war in recent months, clearly unfazed by the intensity of the military projections that Israel could unleash on them and their country, in a future conflict. The most recent reports coming from the region suggest that the movement, fearing the eventual demise of its long-time ally, Syria, has been helping itself to vast quantities of sophisticated military equipment belonging to the Syrian military.

Perhaps this explains why Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s formidable secret service, Mossad, recently claimed that the politico-religious movement’s guerrilla arm had amassed missile power equal to that of almost 90 percent of countries in the world. Although the accuracy of his statement cannot be substantiated, Hezbollah is certainly not secretive regarding its determination to confront Israel—which in turn has being making its own bellicose preparations.

But for all the intermittent warnings of severe retaliation coming out of Tel-Aviv, Hezbollah leaders seem to relish the idea of an Israeli military offensive. Perhaps this has something to do with the Islamic movement being in possession of a substantial number of Iranian made Fajr, Fateh and Zelzal rockets, with estimated ranges of approximately 75-200km. This is in addition to several dozen purported M600 surface-to-surface missiles from Syria—each of its warheads carries half a ton of high explosives.

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Hariri Indictments: The view from South Beirut

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Rafiq Hariri in his Parisian home in 1992. Source: Ammar Abd Rabbo

Finally, the long awaited but highly politicised 47-page indictments were released. The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) took two and half years of painstaking investigations, more than 120 million US dollars in budget and United Nations Security Council endorsement for its work to eventually culminate into the findings that the STL presented. It had issued arrest warrants back in June calling for four Lebanese suspects it says were involved in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Rafiq Hariri in his Parisian home in 1992. Source: Ammar Abd Rabbo

They all happened to be members of Hezbollah. The most notable among them was Mustafa Badreddine, the brother-in-law of Hezbollah’s former top military commander, Imad Mugniyeh. All along the STL had made everyone believe that it was riding on a crest wave. It had amassed the best of international experts, forensic scientists and modern technology in its quest to expose the perpetrators of the massive 2,500 kg truck bombing which brutally murdered the man commonly known as Mr. Lebanon, along with 22 others.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, we were assured, was neither laggard in conducting themselves, nor slack in preparation. Despite claims of some early mistakes, there was to be no flaw in its eventual conclusion. It now confidently released enough evidence to implicate the four suspects in the spectacular bomb blast some six and a half years ago. The evidence, it turns out, is overwhelmingly circumstantial and based on five different phone networks allegedly used to plot the assassination.

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